Wednesday, November 14

The Muskoka Mystery

Today I thought I'd do something a little different and tell you a story about beautiful Muskoka, Ontario. Muskoka is a beautiful area at any time of year, but especially in autumn. Forests stretch for miles, loons call from a lake and moose, black bear and other wonderful animals live there. It is a remote area with small villages and towns and very friendly people. Now, to the Muskoka Mystery.

Muskoka is a beautiful scenic area north of Toronto, Ontario. Here is a map of the area.

I've visited Muskoka several times over the years and would visit again in a minute. Crystal clear, sparkling lakes that are great for fishing and lovely to photograph, thick, dense forests and wonderful people make the area feel like home.

Earlier this year, the TV program, W5, aired a segment called, Mystery of Muskoka. It seems that four seniors disappeared from the area between 1998 and 1999. All of the seniors shared a common thread - all suffered from mental illness and were pretty much alone in the world. Not a trace of any one of them has ever been found.

All four of these seniors had one other thing in common. They were all connected to a family named Laans, who ran Christian senior residences in Huntsville, Ontario. Three of the seniors, all men, lived in one of these homes. The one woman of the group lived in a garden shed on the Laans property. She was well known in the area as the Cat Lady. It seems she took in and fed dozens of stray cats.

The names of the missing are as follows:

Joan Lawrence aka the Cat Lady - age 77

John Crofts - age 70

Ralph Grant - age 69

John Semple - age 89

It seems the Laan siblings liked money. In 2003 and 2004, they were convicted for embezzling money from the seniors they professed to help. When seniors died, the Laans siblings continued to deposit their pension checks into their own bank accounts. They also deposited checks for Crofts, Grant and Semple into their accounts and never reported them missing.

After all these years, the whereabouts of the four seniors is still unknown. What happened to them? How could they vanish off the face of the Earth without someone knowing?

As I stated earlier, there is lots of thick, dense forests in the Muskoka area. Did all four of these seniors wander into the bush never to be seen again? Did they die of natural causes and if so, what became of their remains? Were the seniors killed and if so, who killed them?

So many questions and no answers in sight. The Ontario Provincial Police have been looking for these answers for almost a decade. What dark mysteries does the Muskoka wilderness hold beneath all of its beauty? Will it one day give up the answer to all of these questions? For the benefit of the seniors' families, I certainly hope so.


  1. How beautiful this part of your country looks!! This sounds like a mystery right out of the cozy mystery's I like!! Only in the books I read some one is dead and then some little old lady goes out and about and tried to solve the mystery!!

    My daughter Kelly did the same meme I did.... You can find her in my list of blogs on my side bar. She is the first one :)

    She googled John Green Whittner last night after she got home from work and the name of the Poem was In School Days (I think) if I don't have it right this time I give up!!! Blessings, Grams

  2. Grams,

    I googled it too and Kelly is right. It is a long poem. I remember having to memorize "The Cremation of Sam McGee." That was a feat.

    I'm glad you enjoyed my little mystery. My heart goes out to the families of the seniors. I think we know the answer to where they went, but no one can prove it. Sad!

  3. What an interesting story- Grams is right- is does sound like a mystery!

    I love the picture- incredibly beautiful!

  4. Good Afternoon Mary,
    I am coming by way of Tammy from My Gentle Retreat. Congratulations on the Community Blogger Award. I have read your comments on several of my blogroll friends before. Since Tammy listed these names, I thought I would drop by and visit. I have never been to Canada. My hubby is a truck driver and he has been from one side of Canada to the other side. He said some parts of it is really beautiful. He did say that some of the roads up there that he has been on wasn't in the best shape. He said it was hard to sleep while the truck was moving. Him and his uncle were team drivers for a company and they went to Surrey Canada every week. It got to where they would send them all over Canada and they kind of got tired of it and it messed up their regular schedule. So, they don't team drive or work for the same company anymore. You probably seen my blog from Tammy also. It is called Karen's Korner. Feel free to stop by sometime when you have the time. I enjoy so much meeting new friends and all. I am fairly new to the blogworld. I got started off of Diane from Diane's Place. She has helped me alot, but I still have lots to learn. Well, thought I would drop by. I'm going to go visit some others that Tammy listed. Take care my friend and God Bless You. Again, congratulations on your award.

    Karen H.

  5. Melanie,

    The photo is of Muskoka. It is a beautiful place. I'm hoping we can take a weekend trip there next fall. I love the leaves when they're in full color.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. What a mystery, Mary! Thanks for sharing. The photo is just breathtakingly beautiful!

    I wonder what happened to those people...

    If you find out, update in a later post. I'd LOVE to find out!

    This was a great post (as always!)


  7. What a beautiful picture and interesting but sad story. I hope someone figures out what happened somday. I have to wonder if these people had no family that missed them, when they disappeared?

  8. Michele,

    I'm glad you enjoyed the mystery story about Muskoka. I will indeed post if any of them are ever found. Thanks for visiting.


    I imagine more people than these four have disappeared, but that is only my opinion. The people living at the homes were all mentally ill and had little or no contact with their families. Crofts sister hadn't heard from him in years until the OPP came to her and asked if she had heard from him. That was 2003. So he had been missing for a very long time.

    Thanks, Ladies for visiting. Have a blessed day.


  9. Goodness!
    People and their greed.
    It is still a very beautiful piece of country.

  10. Mary,

    It does look like an incredibly beautiful place. And what happened to those seniors is a real mystery, indeed, and very sad! I hope they solve the mystery one day.

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and the sad story
    of those seniors.



  11. Very interesting story! But with all those deep woods, whatever happened may well remain a mystery, for ever.


  12. I am a big murder mystery buff, but not about real people. I hope the police find out what happened to those four people.
    I thought I'd explain why I wrote only Writing Nook for your link on my blog. MamaMia's real name is Mary and I thought people who know us would get confused.

  13. I'm glad that everyone enjoyed the photo that was taken in the Muskoka area. It is a beautiful part of Ontario. If you get a chance to visit, do so. You'll love it.

    The mystery of the disappearing seniors is sad. I doubt it will ever be solved. It is my opinion that the seniors didn't just wander into the woods. I think there was foul play afoot in the woods late at night.

  14. I speny my summers in Muskoka on a small island in a small lake, paddling my canoe and swimming. And yes, there was that summer of love!. . . . And another of heart ache!

    Muskoka has changed. It used to be a place of small cottages and rustic resorts. Now it is a place of multimillion dollar summer places. Locals can not longer afford to live there.

    I now live in the Temagami region much like Muskoka used to be but larger. It seems the rich of Toronto don't want to drive further north than Huntsville.

    You wanted to know about my sore toe. Still sore. I guess the bone was crushed. It will take a while.

    The weather turns cold tonight (a high tomorrow of 0C) after some warm weather. That snow we had all disappeared. The serious snow that stays will be here within a month.

  15. Ooohhh, how spooky. I hope they didn't suffer. I hope that justice will be served!

    Stop by my blog.....I have a surprise for you!

    :0) Sharon

  16. Wow, such an interesting, and mysterious story. Thanks for sharing., I love the beautiful picture.

  17. Sharon and Denise,

    I'm glad that you both enjoyed the story.

    Sharon, I will be over to find out what surprise I have in store.


    Yes, Muskoka is a very pretty region of our province.

    Blessings to you both and thanks for commenting.


  18. I love the Muskokas and just this past July I was there and stayed overnight in Gravenhurst, one of the delightful little communities there. I hadn't heard that story, though...gosh, and here I was walking in the woods! lol What a fascinating story...I feel so sorry for all these seniors who put their trust into that family, only to have their money stolen.I'll have to read more about this story!! Hope your evening is going well dear friend! xoxo

  19. Beautiful picture, but sad story.
    :( I agree that there must of been foul play. The "love" of money is the root of all evil. It is just "too" Coincidental you know what I mean?

  20. What a beautiful part of your country. I love a good mystery, only I really prefer them to be fiction. I hope that someday these people are found and, assuming that they are dead, that they are finally laid to a peaceful rest.

  21. I too hope they find some closing for those families. I am so drawn to little mysteries such as this. What beautiful countryside.

  22. The photo is absolutely gorgeous, but ohhhhhhhhh, what a story!! Wow.

  23. PS---I just rec'd an award/gift from Sharon this morning...and I dropped by to thank you for making such a beautiful graphic.

    I'm on my way out for the day, and I will post it on my blog tomorrow!!!
    [thanks for so generously volunteering your time to make the wonderful work of art!!]

  24. What a beautiful place to hold such mystery..... At first glance I have the urge to fish... then upon reading I am saddened by the greed of others..... What a range of emotion........Thanks for that story.........

  25. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful area.
    Wow, the place should be HAUNTED.
    Unfortunately a lot of seniors are taken advantage.